Expanding Google Suggest in Legal Dispute

Google has had a new patent application published at the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) which provides an expanded view of how it may present real time suggestions for queries when someone is typing words into a search box. At the same time, Google has come under fire, and faces litigation, for their predictive suggestions.

This post takes a quick look at the litigation, the new patent application, some of the additional processes that it uses in filtering and collecting information about queries, and why all this might matter to people who are interested in having their web sites found through Google.

Litigation over Google Query Suggestions

A Belgian software company is pursuing legal proceedings against Google for toolbar suggestions which are pointing to illegal versions of the software that company offers, when someone searches for their name. The case was originally initiated back in February, and appears to be ready to go to trial. It raises some interesting issues involving what happens when a search engine provides suggestions in a tool like Google Suggest, or though a toolbar.

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A Look at Google Midpage Query Refinements

Google Introduces Midpage Query Refinements

In early April, Googleguy posted at the Search Engine Watch Forums, and his post was split off into a thread titled Google Confirms Mid-Page “See Results For” Section No Longer A Test; Suggest A Name!.

In his post, he tells us that:

In fact, this is no longer a test. We do this when we see a query (e.g. [katrina] or something similar) that we think might benefit from a refinement, (e.g. maybe you wanted to search for [hurricane katrina]).

If you haven’t seen the additional query results in question, they are links for some alternative suggested search terms, appearing in the middle of the top ten results that Google returns.

Those alternative suggestions had been referred to as user interface (UI) experiments, along with a number of other different ways of presenting Google results.

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Correcting Chinese Characters in Search Queries

I had a chance to spend a little time with Ian McAnerin at the New York SES before his near brush with a Fiery Explosion!, and he briefly mentioned some of the challenges facing search engines in China, including the use of simplified Chinese characters.

Ian is one of the speakers who will appear at the Search Engine Strategies Conference in China later this month. I don’t know if it will come up at the sessions there, but those simplified Chinese characters pose some interesting challenges to the search engines. I posted about a couple of patent applications from Google on Chinese characters last December.

Google has released another patent application involving Chinese characters in search queries: Fault-tolerant romanized input method for non-roman characters

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Google Looks at Multi-Stage Query Processing

Multi-Stage Query Processing at Google

Determining how a term or phrase may be used in the context of a page can be helpful in deciding how relevant that page is in responding to a query from a searcher.

A patent application from Google was published this week which looks at possible ways of considering the context of those words, and describes a multiple stage process to determine relevancy and find results to a search.

Multi-Stage Query Processing Description Flowchart

larger image (new window)

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Can Google Read Your Mind? Processing Predictive Queries

A new patent application published this morning doesn’t involve ESP, but it does attempt to anticipate what searchers are looking for. The document has the names of some prominent Google employees on it.

Anticipated query generation and processing in a search engine
United States Patent Application 20050283468
Published: December 22, 2005
Filed: June 22, 2004

The focus of this document is on returning search results quicker, and enabling personalization to make those results more relevant for the person searching.

In my recent Google Acquisition post, one of the companies I mentioned, Kaltix, specialized in personalization and speeding up search results. I also linked to a patent application there, assigned to Kaltix, which covered those types of issues.

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